Sordid, Pretentious Mother Fixations
Release Date: May 17, 2013
Starring: Cho Min-soo, Lee Jung-jin
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 104 minutes
Distributor: Drafthouse Films
Director: Kim Ki-duk
Executive Producer: Kim Ki-duk, Kim Woo-taek
Producer: Kim Soon-mo
Writer: Kim Ki-Duk
Address Comments To:Tim League, CEO, Drafthouse Films
320 East 6th Street
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: (512) 476-1320; Website: www.drafthousefilms.com
The movie, which takes its title from paintings of the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus Christ, is about a brutal young debt collector who cripples poor workers who can’t pay his loan shark boss. A woman approaches him claiming to be the long-lost mother who abandoned him as a child. The young man brutalizes her because he doesn’t believe her, going so far as to rape her. However, when she expresses guilt and forgiveness, claiming that her abandonment turned him into such a mean, evil person, he starts to express kindness toward her and others. This leads, however, to a tragic, depressing ending that tries to use more Christian symbolism but ends up being rather pretentious and ultimately shallow and abhorrent.
PIETA is too artsy to be worthwhile aesthetically. That’s even more true when considering the movie’s entertainment value. Worse than this, however, is that the filmmakers try to take advantage of Christian symbolism in a tale with very strong sordid content. Thus, there’s an extremely disturbing rape scene, disturbing violence but little blood and gore, a suicide, a revenge theme, lots of strong foul language, and other lewd, disturbing content. PIETA also has an apparent anti-capitalist view, according to the director, who sees his movie as a strong criticism of a financial capitalism turning Korea into a “money oriented” society. Thus, the movie seems to have a strong Romantic worldview contending that it’s society that corrupts people. The director says he wants his movie to encourage the viewer to cry out, “God have mercy on us!” but that doesn’t come across in the movie at all.
Some may find PIETA interesting and profound, but, ultimately, it’s too cryptic, too sordid, too pretentious, and too much.
PIETA doesn’t quite work. It tries to use Christian symbols and imagery to craft a profound story, but ends up being rather pretentious, shallow and abhorrent. The story is extremely sordid. Thus, it contains a really disturbing rape scene, disturbing violence but little blood and gore, suicide, revenge, strong foul language, and other lewd, disturbing content. PIETA has a strong Romantic, anti-capitalist worldview. Its sordid content and depressing Non-Christian worldview are a huge turn off.